Fewer Boundaries, Not More!

Rather than creating new boundaries, beloning to new small scale 'local' decision making bodies, lets concentrate on removing or breaking down barriers between the different public services in each area.

Why the contribution is important

Creating new 'local' decision making bodies risks setting these against each other in competition for resources.  The outcome may be the creation of more boundaries, and a miriad of requests for more local investment which may not help efficient, needs based resource allocation across Scotland as a whole.

Instread, if we concentrate on breaking down or removing the boundaries between service providers, with fewer public service bodies each providing a wider range of services, we create the conditions for even more joined up service delivery for example between heath and social care or between economic development, skills development, colleges and school education.


by Andy55 on July 04, 2018 at 07:54PM

Current Rating

Average score : 4.8
Based on : 5 votes


  • Posted by LocalGovernanceAdmin July 06, 2018 at 13:12

    Thank you for raising this idea Andy, this sounds like something you are passionate about! Looking forward to hearing what others think about your statement.

    It is a goal for SG that organisations should be working across boundaries, so wherever this ends up we cannot get in the way of that goal!
  • Posted by AJ July 16, 2018 at 12:44

    I completely agree that removing barriers, not creating more, smaller, new ones should be the priority. Local too often becomes 'special interest' and the loudest voices get more resources, creating more imbalance.
  • Posted by LocalGovernanceAdmin July 19, 2018 at 14:33

    Thanks for your comment AG, There are bound to be instances where bigger is better, for example a move to a more regional approach, and the wider review will look at this too. When thinking about those decisions that might be best taken more locally by communities, are there ways to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to be heard?
  • Posted by SuzieQue July 25, 2018 at 22:08

    I agree that breaking down barriers between public sector organisations is the priority. This may be breaking down barriers between the different organisations working within a single geographic area, or by collaboration between neighboring bodies.

    My perception is that there are too many public sector bodies, and that the current range of functions could be carried out more effectively and efficiently by a smaller number of public bodies organised on a geographic, rather than a functional basis.

    If democracy really does matter, the preference would be for a model where more decisions are taken by elected representatives.

    I've commented in other 'ideas' that I don't think small is necessarily beautiful. I'm not sure if I agree with the comment above that there are 'bound to be' instances where bigger is better. Frankly, I don't think we should get hung up on size - I'd much rather see energy devoted to breaking down the artificial barriers between services provided by councils, by health boards, and by Scottish Government agencies.
  • Posted by LocalGovernanceAdmin July 27, 2018 at 13:37

    Suzie – The Democracy Matters conversation focuses on community decision-making, but this is only one important part of a bigger picture. The Local Governance Review will consider how decisions are taken at all levels. This will help to address the issues you raise by asking if changes to governance arrangements, at local authority level or more regionally, could help to improve services in different places.
  • Posted by Husoi October 17, 2018 at 13:11

    You are forgetting one small implication in having an increasing number of council borders, this is the disputes that this creates. Frequently Councils try to discard their responsibility to their neighbours as a way to avoid spending money creating a "no man's land" both sides of the borders.
    Nevertheless, totally agree with this idea.
  • Posted by jhbeck9 October 20, 2018 at 13:30

    I don't think this debate is about setting up more local decision-making bodies: it is about deciding what kind of decisions local bodies should be empowered to make. Nor do I agree that local decision-making implies setting regions against each other. Local bodies should decide HOW to spend their budget: they should not decide how big that budget should be. These decisions must be taken at a more regional level.

    The key to making devolved decision-making work is getting the levels of decision-making right. That is what we should be discussing. Local decisions are those that affect the local area but do not affect other areas, or perhaps do so to a very limited extent. So for example, decisions about improving the children's play park or putting up Christmas lights should be taken locally but decisions about road maintenance should not because people drive through as well as within a local area. There may well be better examples but I hope the idea is clear.
  • Posted by Aspinall November 29, 2018 at 15:29

    It's an interesting idea to have fewer bodies delivering services and whilst it may be thought that this would lead to greater efficiency and better local decisions you only have to look at existing councils to see that sometimes one department works against another and that there can be a silo effect from officers and departments.

    The starting point should be deciding which services are best delivered at which level. Referring back to the old Regional Councils, it might make sense for social services to be delivered in a unit equal to the Health Boards (I know that there are good examples of working together at the moment). Whereas, say decisions on emptying street bins are made at a local level below present Council level. Some councils are trying to devolve this latter type of service to more localised bodies but they are still working within overall policies and depend on devolved budgets.
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